The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
EMINENT FRENCH CANADIANS

UNDER the influence of their social environments and of their cultural institutions, French Canadians have evolved an élite of great distinction, represented by various groups and individuals, most of whom come in contact with the British and the wider world life. This class, even when it has been open to the best English influences and to some extent has yielded to English ways, leans strongly for its intellectual inspiration on the side of France, though it draws much from both sources. Here, as in other phases of the national life, the social spirit is very strong. The atmosphere is impregnated with a delightful social refinement. We have shown what that spirit is among the rural masses, but it is especially choice in this realm which excels in general ideas and in the art of conversation. There is refinement and dignified diction among the ecclesiastics, the professors of colleges and universities, as well as among individuals who have been elevated to important national services.

Intellectual and often religious affinities brought them together. Abbé Casgrain has spoken of a group which gathered at Crémazie's book-store in the city of Quebec, showing us Garneau, the coming historian; Etienne Parent, later on under-secretary of state; Abbé Ferland, who brilliantly taught history at Laval; P. J. O. Chauveau, future prime minister of the province, as well as man of letters; J. C. Taché, a publicist and political man who represented

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